Sunday, November 27, 2011

OPINION (kind of): Black Sabbath Reunion

Hi internet. Austin here. So I'm bummed and I bet you can guess why. You probably heard the new that Black Sabbath is getting back together, right. It's kind of the saddest thing I've ever heard. Sigh...

My relationship with Black Sabbath goes way back. Even when I was really young, the 2nd grade even, I loved all the Black Sabbath and Ozzy songs I heard on the radio. There weren't that many: "Paranoid", "Iron Man", "Crazy Train" etc. The hits. But young me would always get super excited when they came on the radio. Then one day on a vacation (I forget exactly where) I found this compilation of Sabbath songs called, I think, We Sold Our Souls For Rock and Roll Vol. 3. (There was another BS comp of the same name from 1975, but this one only had 9 tracks. I think this was a reissue or something.) And I listened to that album a ridiculous amount. It had a lot of the hits that I knew from before, but it also had a lot of songs that I had never heard before, like the eponymous "Black Sabbath", "Wizard", and "Wicked World". They were great songs, and I was steadily expanding my pallet for Sabbath. But then I grew up and started listening to Frank Zappa and got all pretentious and Sabbath fell by the wayside.

I got back to listening to Sabbath and it really made me appreciate how much I, and really most people who like them, loved them for the wrong reasons. I always thought they were just a loud, metal-ish, jock rock band to bang your head to. And for the most part, they kind of were. Anything post-Ozzy isn't the best, and a lot of it is really bad. And it takes a certain mindset to be able to fully appreciate why Black Sabbath is so fantastic. You can't just flip on the radio and hear "Iron Man" and understand why this band is good. But once you actually sit down with them, and with Master of Reality in particular, you really see how much they presage what goes on in heavy music now. The guitar tones, and subject matter, and just overall attitude and aesthetic are decades ahead of their time. Not only did they independently create heavy metal on their own, they created doom and sludge and countless other subgenres.

And that was literally 43 years ago. Which is really what I wanted to write about: can a band like Sabbath, whose prime was nearly half a century ago, still make relevant, artistically decent, or even just good music? I feel pretty confident that a new Black Sabbath album would NOT be good. But this is just based on the fact that they've made really bad music in the past. What about a band that has done no wrong? Take a guy like Jeff Mangum. He made one of the best albums of all time, and one really, really good album. And now he's touring again. I haven't heard anything about a new NMH album, but what would it be like? Part of the beauty of those albums was that they were so immeadiate, and built off of Mangum's personal experiences at the time. And it was those experiences that made Aeroplane in particular so good. But he's not having those same experiences anymore. So would a new album, describing the experiences and emotions he has now, be as "good". Would we be able to relate to them as much? Or would he still be so good at writing songs and expressing his thoughts that it would still be good? I've learned from experience that that usually isn't true. And it really irks me when people say that it is, because there's so much new music being made that really is good. When a person raves about the new album by some crusty old dad-rocker, there's about a thousand albums by bands that they've never heard about and don't want to hear about. Which goes back to the point of "people enjoying music wrong". Rolling Stone magazine does this to an annoyingly large degree. Really? The new U2 album was 5 stars, hmm? You make me sick RS. Anyway, I was just wondering because I read about Black Sabbath in Rolling Stone and I got angry. Bye.

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